My Army buddy from Georgia IM'd me on the computer tonight.
"You know Nellis Drive?"
"A plane crashed there like twenty minutes ago."
Without asking how he knew all this from an Army base in Georgia, I got my shit together and headed out to my truck; five minutes later I was in Harry's driveway, and we headed across town to where this thing went down. Of course, there were cops everywhere, and with the heavy fog that has cast a shroud across Northern New Jersey the last couple days, we couldn't see a damn thing. My morbid side was hoping at least to see some smoke rising, but no such luck.
With nothing more to do and all the roads blocked, we went to a diner. Harry starts telling me about his adventures in Florida, where he's been for the last week.
"We stopped at this place called the Highway Inn. It was like Great Notch, but a million times worse. There were some fuckin hardcore bikers there, and me and Chud were talking to a couple of them. They were saying shit about the drugs they run and all that...they were dangerous fuckin guys."
Harry knows as well as I do how bad those types are. You can offend them without even knowing it, as something that seems completely innocent or conversational to us may come off as insulting to them. If you insult these guys, the bikers from backwoods Florida, you end up dead in a ditch somewhere.
"The guy told me that he knew I was a good guy when I looked him in the eye and shook his hand. I was glad that he said that... you never know where you stand with them. Then they started chanting this racist shit, like stuff they rehearsed. It was strange."
The backwoods amaze me, and so do the people that live there. It might come off as shocking to some people that stuff like this still exists, or ever existed at all, but it's there.
"Chud said something about how it'd be cool to be fighting our way out the door. I told him that it would suck, and that we should stay inside the bar...they might not kill us in here. It's when they get you outside that they pull the guns out and shit."
Harry knows his stuff about bad guys, a hell of a lot more than Chud does. Chud is incredibly friendly, but friendly doesn't help you with those kind of guys. You need to watch your step and your mouth.
We leave the diner and head back. As we're driving, we see an ambulance behind us, undoutedly heading towards the major hospitals in the area, and I pull to the side to let them through. The lights are on in the back, and I see hanging tubes that you see in medical shows. There is a blond woman back there with a panicked look on her face, and the medics are working on whoever is back there.
"Think that's the pilot?", I say.
"Maybe. I don't know how he coulda made it."
I drop him off and head home. When I get home, my mother informs me of something that is so terrible that it rivals the best Greek tragedy you could think of- King Lear has nothing on this shit.
"There was this guy on the paramedics that got to the scene. It was his night off, but for some reason he came out anyway; something about having a bad feeling. As he was walking up, he heard the firefighters talking about the name of the pilot who died, engulfed in flames. The paramedic stopped, and asked the firefighters to repeat the name. They told him... and he reazlied that the dead pilot was his father. Isn't that terrible? "
Suddenly, I feel horrible about wanting to see any of the wreckage.
"Yea. Yea it is." I walk downstairs and get a beer.